Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "If the Pontifical Mission Societies do not persevere in preserving jealously their universal Catholic dimension, it is not their survival which is in danger, but the service to all the missionary Churches": said Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, this morning during the inauguration of the Annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), which takes place in Rome until Saturday, May 10 (see Fides 29/04/2014).
In his inaugural speech, the Cardinal recalled that "in this first year of his pastoral ministry as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has given the Church a great missionary impulse" through many gestures and the publication of two important documents, Lumen Fidei and Evangelii Gaudium. "Evangelization in this period of enormous social change - he continued - requires a transformed Church, a missionary Church... because the missionary action is the paradigm of all the missionary work of the Church".
Therefore the Cardinal Prefect focused on the role of the PMS in the new ecclesiological scenario, highlighting how, after the Second Vatican Council, the PMS "have redefined their position, simply to adapt to the rediscovery of the leadership of local churches. Now they are called to give their specific contribution, in creating or allowing their Churches to mature, as subjects responsible for evangelization".
"In recent times - said the Prefect of the Congregation – the reflection between the Pope's solicitude for all the Churches and the bilateral cooperation between the Churches regarding support and help, becomes more and more interesting". The PMS have been recognized "Pontifical" as "the Supreme Pastor knows and feels more than anyone else the needs of all and of each individual Church", but the PMS "also belong to every Bishop, because they are rooted in the life of the particular Churches. It has absolutely nothing to do with levels or positions of honor or authority, but a service to evangelization. We are all servants of the mission - said the Cardinal - .
Cardinal Filoni then noted that even the Pontifical Societies suffer the effects of the financial and economic crisis: "We have certified a gradual decrease of collection on behalf of the faithful of the Churches of ancient foundation, while there was a modest increase in the young Churches of Africa and Asia". For the Prefect of the Congregation the reasons however are not only economic, but also perhaps a certain "disaffection of God’s people towards the missionary world". "It is time to review our animation activities, which must speak to the hearts of God's people, indicating the beauty of the participation in the missionary service - said the Cardinal - . Missionary cooperation cannot be based solely on the collection of offerings. They, the Pontifical Mission Societies are charismatic, ie they have their effectiveness in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The appropriation of faith, prayer for the missions and sacrifice are necessary elements for the effectiveness of the work of evangelization".
In the footsteps of the Apostle Paul and the early apostolic community, "it is necessary to to go to the suburbs, as Pope Francis says. It is important to be present in the diocesan organizations, parishes and institutions and religious congregations. The faithful need to be called to participate actively in the work of the missions in diocesan and national conferences", urged the Cardinal Prefect, entrusting "all our work to the Queen of the Missions". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 05/05/2014)